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Navigation, passing time and mindfulness

By 3 June 2020April 10th, 2024Publications


In this series of articles, Eric Dupont and Philippe Angoustures, partners at PMP, examine how the experience of difficult conditions at sea can be useful to managers in the current crisis.

One of the things that changes the most at sea is clearly the relationship to the weather.

Indeed on a sailboat either one is in a maneuver and each second can then be worth gold, or one is between two maneuvers and one then seems to have an almost infinite stock of minutes or hours which all seem similar to each other. There is no middle ground between these two situations!

Sailors thus gradually develop a relationship with time allowing them to inhabit each of these extremes alternately in the most positive way possible: long periods of vacuum or short periods of intensity.

A good way to do this is to substitute the notion of the present moment for time and to pretend time does not exist.

Whether it is to contemplate the sea for hours or to jibe under spinnaker in a few seconds, an attitude aimed at “optimizing” the passing time will quickly find its limit and make the experience painful because it will always pass too quickly or too much. slowly. On the other hand, taking the situations as they present themselves, in a non-judgmental way (how to judge a spray or a spinnaker sheet?), By focusing only on what one has to do in the moment allows to live long-term navigation in a positive way while remaining efficient. Being well trained in maneuvers will of course be necessary, as well as having created the navigation conditions so that long periods of inaction are liveable,but in both cases the success of the experience will also lie in the ability to fully live the present moment as in meditation practices aimed at mindfulness.

So like Mr Jourdain, we can say that the sailor practices mindfulness without knowing it. And just as many studies have shown the benefits of mindfulness on health, perhaps that’s why after a few days you are no longer sick at sea.

Some of us go through a long period of inaction, some redouble our efforts to get the machine going again. The former seem to have too much time and the latter never enough. The sea teaches us that in order to get the most out of each situation while feeling better, it is in our interest to experience them identically by focusing on the present moment.

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